The Pied Piper of Hamelin

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Hamelin was being ruined by rats, but neither cats nor rat catchers could cure the problem. When a pied piper arrives, the mayor agrees to pay him fifty pounds to get rid of the pests. As the pied piper plays, the rats come out and follow him into the harbor, where they fall into the water and drown. But the mayor changes his mind and says he'll no longer pay. So the piper plays another tune that lures the children out of their homes. Together the pied piper and the children walk straight out of town, never to be seen again. The town should have paid its debt!

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Along time ago in the town of Hamelin, all of the people who lived there were very unhappy. Their town was being ruined by rats. Rats lived EVERYWHERE in Hamelin. They lived in the cupboards, the closets, underneath the beds, In the schoolyards, in the churches, in stores, indoors, and they scurried across the floors morning, noon, and night. The people and children could hardly eat or sleep because they were so afraid of finding a rat on their plate or pillow. Life in Hamelin was very hard indeed. The rats ate the food in the house and chewed up the children’s toys and made holes in everyone’s clothes. The rats were hated by all. But, no one knew how to make them go away. Many of the townspeople had cats but the rats outsmarted the cats and eventually, the cats gave up the fight and left out of fright on a very warm Spring night. The towns people tried to poison the rats but that did not work either. The rats were too smart. And the rat-catchers had no luck either with their traps. The Mayor and the town council members were very worried and upset about the problem. One day, while they were discussing what to do, a young man ran into their meeting room at the town hall and announced that a very strange man had just arrived in town. The group told the young man to bring the stranger to them. The stranger entered the room and the group saw at once that he was quite strange. His suit was made from every color of the rainbow and so was his hat. He was tall and thin and had bright, piercing eyes. “I’m called the Pied Piper,” said the stranger. “Tell me, gentlemen, what would you pay me if I could get rid of every single rat in Hamelin?” Even though the group hated the rats, they hated spending money too, but finally agreed to pay the Pied Piper his price. He wanted fifty pounds, which was quite a lot of money. They agreed to pay him as soon as there was not a rat left to squeak or scurry in Hamelin. As soon as the Pied Piper left the town hall, he began to play his pipe and a loud, shrill tune could be heard through every street and in every house. And all the rats of the town came running to the Piper who was walking down the main street of the town. The rats followed him and followed him. He walked up Silver Street and down Gold Street, and at the end of Gold Street was the harbor. And as he walked along each street, the townspeople hung their heads out of their doors and windows and shouted blessings and words of thanks to him. Finally, he reached the harbor at the end of Gold Street and at the water’s edge was a boat. He stepped into it and pushed off until the boat had floated away into deep waters. All the rats tried to follow him on to the boat, but they all fell into the water and drowned instead. The Piper sailed his boat back to the shore. There should have been a crowd of townspeople waiting for him and cheering. But there was no one. The Piper began to walk through the town, among the townspeople expecting to be paid for ridding the town of rats. But, the Mayor and the town council members, and the townsfolk began to hem and haw and shake their heads nervously. They were nervous because the town money chest had been empty for quite awhile and they did not know how they would pay the Piper fifty pounds. Finally, the Mayor said to the Piper, “Listen, my good man, we are very poor and cannot afford to pay you fifty pounds. Can you take twenty instead? That song you played was not too difficult for you, was it? Twenty should be enough.” “But we agreed on fifty pounds,” said the piper shortly, “and if I were you I’d pay it quickly. Because I can play many kinds of tunes and you may not like what you hear next.” “Don’t you dare threaten us!” shrieked the Mayor, and then he winked at the town council members and whispered, “all the rats are dead and drowned, so what can he do now?” Then, he turned back to the Piper and said with a gleam in his eye, “You may do your worst, my good man,” and with that he turned on his heel and walked away. It was a happy, fun tune–one that could be used for dancing at a party. And, very quickly all the children of the town ran from their parents’ homes and ran from the school and followed the Piper. The townsfolk watched as the children followed the Piper, who walked and walked and played his tune. And finally, he walked into the great, green forest just outside the town and the children followed laughing and clapping and dancing. And, the townspeople never saw the Piper or the children ever again.

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Based on the story by: The Brothers Grimm

Illustrated by: Violeta Dabija